Categorized | Iraq, USA

Pentagon Reverses Position and Admits U.S. Troops Used White Phosphorus Against Iraqis in Fallujah

NOVANEWS

The U.S. government has now admitted its troops used white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against Iraqis during the assault on Fallujah a year ago. Chemical weapons experts say such attacks are in violation of international law banning the use of chemical weapons. We speak with columnist George Monbiot and the news director of RAI TV, the Italian TV network that produced the film “Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre.” [includes rush transcript]

The U.S. government has now admitted its troops used white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against Iraqis during the assault on Fallujah a year ago.

Chemical weapons experts say such attacks are in violation of international law banning the use of chemical weapons.

Peter Kaiser, of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said, “Chemicals used against humans or animals that cause harm or death through the toxic properties of the chemical are considered chemical weapons.”

White phosphorus is often compared to napalm because it combusts spontaneously when exposed to oxygen and can burn right through skin to the bone.

The Pentagon”s admission comes after a week of denials that it used white phosphorus as a weapon in Fallujah. While reporters have noted the use of white phosphorus since the war began, it only became a major story last Tuesday when Italian state broadcaster RAI TV aired the documentary “Fallujuah: The Hidden Massacre.”

On that same day Democracy Now aired an excerpt of the documentary and interviewed Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, the director of the Pentagon’s Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad. During our show Boylan denied the claims made in the documentary that white phosphorus was used as a weapon to target Iraqis.

But the Pentagon was caught in a lie after it was revealed that an official Army publication called Field Artillery magazine had disclosed that the Army had in fact used white phosphorus as a weapon.

The magazine, in its March-April issue, reported “[White Phosphorus] proved to be an effective and versatile munition… [and] as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes.”

The magazine went on to report “We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP [White Phosphorus] to flush them out and HE [high explosives] to take them out.”

On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Barry Venable, another Pentagon spokesperson, admitted on the BBC that white phosphorus was used as an offensive weapon to target insurgents.

The Pentagon has defended its use of white phosphorus by claiming it is a not chemical weapon and that it was only used against Iraqi insurgents, not civilians. However even this would have been illegall according to the Army’s own rules of combat. In 1999 the Army published a handbook that read, “It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.”

An Iraqi human rights team has reportedly gone into Fallujah to investigate the use of white phosphorus as a weapon by U.S. forces.

Note: We contacted Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col Barry Venable yesterday but he refused to come on the program.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: While reporters have noted the use of white phosphorus since the war began, it only became a major story last Tuesday when Italian state broadcaster, RAI TV, aired the documentary, Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre. On that same day, Democracy Now! aired an excerpt of the documentary here in the United States and interviewed Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan, the director of the Pentagon’s Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad. During our broadcast, Boylan denied the claims made in the documentary that white phosphorus was used as a weapon to target Iraqis.

LT. COL. STEVE BOYLAN: I know of no cases where people were deliberately targeted by the use of white phosphorus. Again, I did not say white phosphorus was used for illumination. White phosphorus is used for obscuration, which white phosphorus produces a heavy thick smoke to shield us or them from view so that they cannot see what we are doing. It is used to destroy equipment, to destroy buildings. That is what white phosphorus shells are used for.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan, speaking on Democracy Now! last Tuesday. But the Pentagon was caught in a lie after it was revealed that an official Army publication called Field Artillery magazine had disclosed the Army had, in fact, used white phosphorus as a weapon. The magazine in its March/April issue reported, quote, “White phosphorus proved to be an effective and versatile munition and a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes.” The magazine went on to report, quote, “We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents using W.P. [white phosphorus] to flush them out and H.E. [high explosives] to take them out.” On Tuesday, Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable, another Pentagon spokesperson, admitted on the BBC that white phosphorus was used as an offensive w

8 Responses to “Pentagon Reverses Position and Admits U.S. Troops Used White Phosphorus Against Iraqis in Fallujah”

  1. Joe F. says:

    What the Pentagon, the Congress, or the White House admit or deny no longer has any meaning or importance. They have no credibility about anything.

  2. Cat Hunter says:

    The self-important,vainglorious jackass, U.S. Army Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt should be brought up on war crimes charges.

  3. Ziza says:

    How long US will do what they doing without any punishment??? Does their senate, pentagon, congress have some honest and human people to stand against this murderers, wake up Americans and whole world, time for punishment is right now before they start next war

  4. WTF says:

    What the hell is wrong with the USA? When are the people of this country going to stand up and insist it’s gov’t stop brutalizing the rest of the world. This crap has got to stop!

  5. Alex S says:

    If only the people dropping the weapons were as heart-sick of the violence consuming the world as the world is. Of course, many in the west are barely conscious enough to count. Most heart-sickness, I suppose, is felt by all the poor souls who live in daily terror. All war is a crime, and as long as we sit by and do nothing, we will get plenty of it.

  6. Richard says:

    Every army in the world uses WP for artillery ranging. I know my late father used it (grenades) during WWII when assaulting pillboxes, caves, bunkers, and buildings in the Pacific theatre. Said it was the only thing (other than flame throwers) that guaranteed that Japanese soldiers would be driven out of their positions. Shouldn’t be used anywhere there are non-combatants. Nasty stuff.

  7. Angel says:

    Today marks the 68th anniversary of the US dropping of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima followed by Nagasaki soon after. Records now show that the Japanese were already trying to surrender and so to drop these on the civilian Japanese populations was a horrendous war crime. When are we going to see the US military held to account for that?

    Would the shocking birth abnormalities in Fallujah be accounted for by wp? So then we have depleted uranium as well. There is so much evidence of all these crimes and yet the pentagon carries on with impunity. At least there should be a proper clean-up and reparations to those who have suffered theses appalling crimes.

    Please request your government representatives to hold those responsible to account and begin the clean-up immediately. Money for this could come from the arms firms responsible for these weapons.

    Blessings.

  8. steve says:

    Sue them and go for the jugular to the actual person in charge. Go for criminal liability.

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